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Annual Report

2012/2013

TOGETHER we’re STRONGER Ní Neart go Cur le Chéile


Member organisations of USI


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Contents PRESIDENT’S WELCOME JULY • • • • • •

Students’ Union Training Grant Information Evening American Educators Presentation BOI Undergraduate Loans Campus Times Initiative Marriage Equality Demo – Rainbow Wedding with UCD • 4th European Road Safety Day • SUSI Launch • Marriage Equality Campaign Launch

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Protest TCD Referendum Mature Student Convention LGBT Ally Campaign 1st Public Transgender Rights Rally at Dáil Eireann ESC 24 – Cyprus Sexual Health Education Road Show Mental Health Campus Tour National Condom Week Road Safety Campus Tour SUSI Forum Set Up Green Training Traenáil na gCumann Oireachtas na Gaeilge

AUGUST • • • • • • • • •

March for Marriage Postgraduate Loan Campaign PleaseTalk Forum Rent Book Launch Dublin Grant & Accommodation Information Evening USI Website Launch Ents Training USI National Charity Chosen – ABI Cork Pride

SEPTEMBER • • • • • • • • • •

County Council Protest Office Move Visit to Áras an Uachtaráin Entry Mechanisms & Leaving Cert Reform Teacher Education Report Finance Guide Launch Equality Policy Transgender EU Conference – DCU OECD Higher Education Conference – Paris Seachtain na bhFreisir

OCTOBER • Class Rep Training Events • National Campaign – Public Meetings,

NOVEMBER • • • • • • • • • •

Lobby of the Oireachtas QQI Appointment Part-Time Officer & Equality Training Postgraduate Seminar Mental Health Week Launch Pink Training – 20th Anniversary ICOD International Student Forum Children’s Rights Referendum Disability Cuts Protest Savita Vigil

DECEMBER • • • • •

Exam Prep Campaign Budget 2013 SUSI Delays Sligo County Council Hilary Clinton Human Rights Address

JANUARY • Launched USI ‘Say Something’ Survey • Intergenerational Campaigning Workshop • Women in Society Seminar – UCC • TCD Admissions Launch • DkIT Plebiscite • Towards Budget 2014 • HEA Conference


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

FEBRUARY

APRIL

• Addressed Constitutional Convention on • Engage Conference – DCU Women in Politics • Constitutional Convention on Marriage • Women in Society Seminar – UCD Equality • Launched ents.usi.ie • Spoke at Abortion Rights Rally • Launched shag.usi.ie • Student Achievements Awards • SHAG Fortnight • CIT Referendum • Referenda - UCD, MSU, DCU • Cycle Against Suicide • INMO Protest – Dáil Eireann • ESU Board Meeting 64 – Budapest • Made Submission to Constitutional • Fóram na Gaeilge Convention on Marriage Equality

MARCH • • • • • • • • • •

Spoke at Action on X Rally National Student Survey Launch ESC 25 – Hosted in Dublin Cyberbulling Campaign Launch at Congress SAF Harmonisation Report Congress 2013 Incoming Officerboard 2013/2014 Elected National Forum of Teaching & Learning Seachtain na Gaeilge Korrika Festival

MAY • • • • • •

Voter Registration Drive Spoke at Abortion Rights Rally SU Officer Guide SUSI Review Accommodation Advice EU/MEP Address

JUNE • • • •

Second Lobby of the Oireachtas PleaseTalk Forum SU Officer Guide Waterford LGBT Pride


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

President’s Welcome In many ways, student politics is a lot like surfing for the first time. To put it mildly, you have no idea what to expect until you’re wading through oncoming waves as they crash all around your head. Initially, you paddle frantically but the force of the water and the lack of technique make for some tentative first attempts. Not deterred easily, and knowing how many peers put their faith in you getting it right, you keep going until, eventually, you’re on your feet. Of course, this sense of jubilation lasts only for the briefest of moments as, before you know it, you’re thrown head first back into the gurgling foam to start all over again. This could sum up the life of a student representative. The joys of helping a student in financial difficulty to stay in college and finish their degree are often swiftly followed by disappointment due to a Government decision to reduce funding for the financial support you just secured for that student. Yet, the measure of the student movement is not where it stands in moments of comfort and convenience on the crest of the wave, but where it stands at times of challenge and controversy, when the waves tower ominously above us. This year began with many such waves approaching - a divided Congress on the issue of tuition fees, justified anger over four successive years of cuts to student financial supports, a wave of apathy amongst the student body for USI’s traditional approach to campaigning on student issues and the threat of multiple disaffiliations from the organisation. The challenges facing the student movement required a radical rethinking of our aims, objectives and strategies. We completely altered the traditional USI campaign model, incorporating increased engagement with external stakeholders and a strong emphasis on building capacity in local Students’ Unions to take leadership on USI campaigns in their region. We coupled this campaign strategy with a solutions-based policy approach, investing increased time and resources in creating evidence-based policies that bolstered USI’s credibility as an organisation. We communicated these policies through a robust and rigorous lobbying and engagement campaign that saw media coverage of student issues increase by 500%. We regained the trust of Students’ Unions across the country by placing our trust in them. This paid dividends as Trinity, Maynooth and Queen’s Students’ Unions chose to remain affiliated with USI and our numbers were strengthened by the re-affiliation of Cork IT Students’ Union after an 11 year absence. The achievements that follow in this report are not the work of one team. They are evidence of the immense commitment given by student activists across the county - from sabbatical officers and class reps right on down to individual students who gave their time to contact public representatives and take part in protests. It is with immense appreciation of their tireless efforts that we present USI’s Annual Report for 2012/13. Beir bua,

John Logue USI President 2012/2013


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

July

USI Officer Board 2012/2013 - SUT President Deputy President (Campaigns Officer) VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance VP for Welfare VP for Equality and Citizenship VP for Irish Language VP for Border, Midlands & Western Region VP for Southern Region NUS-USI President

John Logue Kate Acheson Cat O’Driscoll Denise McCarthy Laura Harmon Peadar de Bluit Breffni Gorman Michael Thompson Adrianne Peltz


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Marriage Equality Campaign Launch Following a unanimous mandate from Congress 2012, USI began the year-long campaign for marriage equality at Students’ Union Training.

UCD/USI Rainbow Wedding Demonstration In the run up to the LGBT Noise March for Marriage, USI and University College Dublin Students’ Union conducted a Rainbow Wedding Demonstration outside the Department of An Taoiseach on July 31st to highlight the need for marriage equality in Ireland and to call on the Taoiseach to support this issue. This demonstration received national media coverage.

SUSI Launch The new centralised grant awarding authority, Student Universal Support Ireland, was launched in July by the City of Dublin VEC. All first time applicants used the new online application form. The SUSI Communications Officer, John Conroy, explained this new system to SU Officers at Student Union Training. By the end of the year over sixty six thousand students applied to SUSI with nearly two million sheets of documentation being processed. It also involved a great number of challenges with most applicants experiencing significant delays.

Grant Information Events Officerboard assisted the unions who ran their own information events. These took place in Athlone IT and Letterkenny IT as well as a centralised Grant and Accommodation Evening in Dublin in August. USI was also invited to the Claddagh Credit Union in Galway to speak at an event aimed at parents and students.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Campus Times The Irish Times & USI Shortly before the Leaving Cert results for 2012 were released, USI and the Irish Times launched a web page called Campus Times. It featured videos produced by students and articles written by Irish Times contributors. The content was geared entirely towards students and provided orientation information and tips on how to settle into college life.

4th European Road Safety Day USI represented Ireland at the fourth European Road Safety Day in Nicosia, Cyprus on July 25th. The ‘Active Involvement of Youth in Road Safety’ Conference was organised by the Cyprus Presidency to commemorate the fourth EU Road Safety Day and sought to explore ways of incorporating young people in road safety. The need to raise awareness among young people was seen as crucial, as road deaths constitute the biggest reason of young deaths in Europe. The findings of the conference from the workshops and discussions were presented in a press conference at the end of the day. Findings include a zero tolerance approach for drink drivers, better targeted information campaigns, a continuous and comprehensive road safety education from a young age and special programmes of re-training of repeated traffic offenders.

American Educators Presentation In July a group of American Educators, who are students on the Doctorate in Higher Education Management Programme in University of Pennsylvania, were in Ireland for a site visit as part of their programme. On Wednesday July 11th the President and Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance made a presentation to the group entitled ‘Students in Irish Higher Education’. They spoke about students in Higher Education, the issues and challenges facing many students including financial and cultural barriers as well as the supports and initiatives in place to tackle these issues. The group were very interested in student involvement and representation asking many questions about USI and the work of the organisation, the answers and explanations receiving very positive feedback. On July 17th the Department of Education hosted a Roundtable discussion with the various Higher Education stakeholders, including USI, based on the findings of the site visit. Student supports, mobility and online learning were all highlighted but the main topic of debate was the financing and sustaining of mass Higher Education which lead into the discussions on the restructuring of the Irish HE Landscape.

Bank of Ireland ‘College Finance’ Student Loans In July 2012 Dublin City University and Mary Immaculate College announced their participation the ‘College Finance’ a loan scheme run by Bank of Ireland. The structure of the loan is the same as the one offered to Trinity Students through ‘TCD Finance’. The loan would only be available to families, not individual students, to cover the Student Contribution Fee, paid straight to the College and subject to an interest rate of 5.1% whilst the student is an undergraduate and 9.1% upon graduation, with 3 years as a graduate to repay the loan. Repayments are set at 100 euro monthly but as the loan is variable it would be possible to pay more when possible. After an Irish Times article indicated other colleges were signing up to this scheme it became apparent many Students’ Unions had not been consulted on their institutions involvement. With the assistance of AITSU a meeting was set up with Bank of Ireland to address the lack of student consultation on the product being advertised on campuses with colleges who had ‘signed up’. Concerns with the contradictory information being made available to students and the lack of consultation with student representatives were raised and Bank of Ireland management agreed to consult with student representatives on any further products aimed at third level students and to provide a briefing document for SU Officers.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

August Cork Pride Many students marched behind the USI banner at the Cork LGBT Pride parade on the 4th of August.

Ents Training Entertainments Training took place in Ballsbridge in Dublin. Entertainment Officers from across the Country attended the modules that included: Positive PR & Ents, Booking Acts & Venues and Taking Advantage of Sponsorship Opportunities. Speakers included Iseult O’Doherty of Carr Communications, Keith Quinlan the Events & Promotions Manager, University of Limerick Students’ Union and Padraic Roche - Marathon Travel & Coaches.

March for Marriage On the 12th of August, USI organised a large student contingent for the LGBT Noise March for Marriage. There were students and student leaders present from all four regions and USI was the most visible group on the day with our placards and pink ‘Students for Marriage Equality’ t-shirts. The USI President spoke at the march. USI was highly commended by many organisations for mobilising so many students to march, The march received national media coverage.

PleaseTalk Forum 2012 The 3rd PleaseTalk Forum was held in DIT, Aungier Street in August. USI worked alongside other members of PleaseTalk steering committee with planning the forum and on the day USI played a very active role in it’s delivery. The theme of the forum was ‘PleaseTalk and the Challenges of Student Finance’. The forum’s Keynote address was from Jerry Buttimer TD who shared his personal experiences. Breakout sessions were held to encourage attendees to plan for the year ahead & to develop a strong presence of PleaseTalk messaging on their campus.

USI National Charity - Acquired Brain Injury Ireland The annual USI National Charity was chosen at GMIT National Council. Four submissions were made from member organisations on various charity organisations. IT Sligo Students’ Union proposed ‘Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’ which was voted as USI’s national charity for 2012/2013. Established in 2000, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider in community based neuro-rehabilitation services for people living with an acquired brain injury. ABI Ireland provides specialist services identifying a clear rehabilitation pathway for the person on their road to recovery. For any young person not getting rehab, the result is nothing more than deterioration of the soul. ABI Ireland takes these young persons and enables them to claim back their lives to the best of their ability. They have helped a number of brain injury survivors return back to their college lives; successfully completing full-time courses. http://www.abiireland.ie/


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

USI Rent Book & Accommodation Guide Launch USI, with the support of PRTB launched the USI Rent Book & Accommodation Guide 2012 in NUIG, LIT & IADT in August. The USI Rent Book is an invaluable resource to students setting out on the hunt for accommodation. It provides them with easily digested information on their rights and obligations as tenants and also includes top tips on all aspects of renting. The Rent Book featured three checklists that students should be mindful of when they’re considering accommodation issues. The checklists are as follows: What to do when looking for accommodation, What to do when you’re moving in and living in your new accommodation & What to do when you’re moving out. These checklists are designed to ensure that students minimise any stress or difficulties they have when looking for accommodation or when dealing with a landlord/letting agency. Taking the advice set out in the Rent Book will get any student off to a good start. This will encourage students to be aware of the pitfalls of renting and give them the confidence and useful tools to take steps to protect themselves.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

USI Website Launch After five years of service, the old style USI website was retired in September 2012. The new site, based on an enhanced Wordpress implementation, provides for instant update access for all officers and staff – and provides immediate capacity to update social media channels on stories of importance. The site was designed in-house using 100% open source or freeware tools with the skills already existing in the staff of the organisation. The site is designed and intended to use Creative Commons ShareAlike images where we don’t supply our own. Each officer is empowered to originate new content, prepare resources and make them available through the new website. Quality control and revision are handled by the communication executive as a staff function, whilst information requiring independent handling (such as election nominations information and congress documents) is administered exclusively by senior staff. We slipped the site into operation the week before the start of the first semester and it was immediately populated with viewers. We have the capacity to carefully monitor use of the site by geographic location and content accessed, with relatively frequent infrastructure updates on an ‘as needed’ basis, now roughly following a two month point revision. At the current time the site is V 1.8. The site integrates with our email and calendar system and integrates a first-stop newsroom facility along with static and dynamic content. Actual user statistics in the first three months of operation showed several thousands of ‘actual visits’ per day on peak news days, whilst hits of more than two million were served from the server. The site was eventually moved in November 2012 to a server based in Ireland (from one based in the UK) to improve service speed to our core readership in Ireland. This has also resulted in an ongoing cost and time saving. The website was augmented quickly with three ancillary websites which perform unique functions for the organisation – A survey website, based on open source software, has allowed advanced data collection from our members on discrete projects such as evaluation of Pink Training 2012 and a major research piece on student experience of sexual violence. Ents.usi.ie is a service and entertainment act listing site which allows acts and agents to share information about their offerings to Students’ Unions and allows SUs to book them. Shag.usi.ie is the frontend for all USI’s sexual health information and support for welfare officers.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Bank of Ireland Postgraduate Student Loans On August 7th Bank of Ireland, with the support of the Minister for Education, launched a loan scheme for Postgraduate students. This product was inadequate and restrictive, failing to fill the gapping hole in postgraduate financial support left by the dramatic cuts to postgraduate student grants. The Postgraduate Loans are limited to students taking one or two year courses with a good credit history and is only available to cover course fees unless the student was previously entitled to a grant. Repayments are made on an interest only basis, with an interest rate of 10.8%, whilst the study is studying. With the exclusion of PhD students and the inequitable criteria USI held a postgraduate seminar, made up of Postgraduate students and representatives to examine the scheme and propose a fairer one.

September Office Move USI moved from Crumlin in South Dublin to its new offices in Ringsend, Dublin 4. The location, on the river bank opposite the O2 provides good transport links, relatively quick access to the M50 through the Port Tunnel and proximity to the city centre. Our new location is fully accessible and provides shared basic services (electricity, water supply etc) in a self-contained, secure location. Most officers are accommodated in an open-plan space with the President and Staff accommodated in secure cubicles. The location is served by Fibre Powered cable broadband with a backup internet connection over our ADSL telephone service and WiFi throughout the office. Use of bicycles is encouraged with excellent secure cycle storage space in the underground car park – and USI now has two car spaces. The office move was completed in just two days, and the old office was handed over to the landlord in excellent condition. A plan to refurbish the office in one move was put on hold, with the team prioritising work on the national campaign over the disruption of refurbishment. Replacement of some equipment will have to take place in 2013/2014, and it’ll be necessary to replace carpet in the open plan area. The office is more financially efficient – the rent is lower than it had been in Crumlin and its good links result in a reduction in mileage for the whole team. The office is held on a ten year lease with a break at five years, and USI benefited from a rent-free period in the first quarter of this year.

Seachtain na bhFreisir Freshers’ Week is the first, and arguably, most important event of the year for Irish Language communities in MO’s around the country. Over the last number of years USI has endeavoured to increase the effectiveness of these events. The result of this has been a significant year-on-year increase in the amount of students involved with Cumainn Gaelaigh every year since 2009-2010. Preparation for Freshers’ weeks dominates the early part of the USI’s year in relation to the Irish Language campaign. We source materials for distribution during the different weeks as well as helping with recruitment and organising events. This element of the year’s work is vital, especially in terms of the new or developing cumainn. Sourcing of materials also allows USI to build a relationship with Irish Language organisations early, as they are the ones providing the majority of relevant materials.

Transgender Europe Council USI attended the TGEU 4th Transgender Europe Council in Dublin on the weekend of the 7th-9th of September in Dublin City University. Workshops included gender recognition, empowering the Trans* community, tackling hate crime, Trans* Inclusion and Trans* in the media.

New USI Equality Policy USI created a new Equality Policy which was passed unanimously on the 22nd of September at National Council in University College Cork.

March for Choice Students marched behind the USI banner at the national March for Choice on the 29th of September in support of a woman’s right to choose.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Launch of USI Finance Guide In September 2012, USI launched it’s Money Matters –Student Finance Guide in GMIT, LIT Tipperary & IT Tallaght. This project was supported by the National Consumer Agency. The Finance Guide is another useful resource for students which is full of practical information and tips for saving, budgeting, managing debt and financial supports available to students.

Entry Mechanisms & Leaving Certificate Reform After the release of Leaving Cert results the IUA published a proposal on Leaving Cert reform and college admission criteria. The proposal included dramatic changes including bonus points for unpopular courses, reducing the number of grade bands and XXX. Though reform is needed USI was vocal on the possible negative effects of the changes which conflicted with the transparent, anonymous and fair ethos of the current Exam and CAO system. As well as engaging with the media, including RTE Drivetime, USI responded to the IUA and requested a place on the Task Force being set up to address the topics raised.

Teacher Education Report Following the National Strategy for Higher Education a number of reviews were conducted on different areas of Higher Education. The report on Teacher Education included proposals to relocate or merge institutions as part of the ‘clustering’ of HE institutions. Following consultation with the member organisations most likely to be affected USI warned of the negative effects and losses some of the relocations would involve. The proposal to integrate the St Angela’s College Sligo activities onto the NUI Galway campus was particularly concerning as the report was conducted to examine initial teacher training but STACS, as with other teacher training colleges, run a number of other courses and postgraduate programmes.

OECD Higher Education Conference On September 17th the OECD held a conference in Paris on ‘Attaining and Sustaining Mass Higher Education’. With many expert panels and speakers including the NYU President and European Commissioner the debate was very fruitful. Most of the issues raised were very relevant to the Irish Higher Education System and the current restructuring of the Landscape. Best practise on centralised Quality Assurance was presented on by representatives from Australia. To many participants disappointment however many debates circled around rankings and resources rather than policy and best practise.

USI Visit to Áras an Uachtaráin The Union of Students in Ireland and Presidents from our Member Organisations were welcomed to Aras and Uactarain by President Michael D. Higgins for a private meeting with him. In the run up to the closing date for the ‘Being Young and Irish’ initiative, the President spoke with USI and its members on the value and importance of the youth today and their contribution to society.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

October

USI LGBT Ally Campaign USI launched a national LGBT Ally campaign on the 1st of October. There were five regional launches in Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Queen’s University Belfast, Waterford Institute of Technology and St Angela’s College Sligo. There were many politicians speaking at the launches to show their support. The campaign was very successful and thousands of LGBT Ally wristbands were distributed to colleges nationally.

Traenáil na gCumann Traenáil na gCumann, or Cumann Gaelach Training , is a co-operative effort between USI,Conradh na Gaeilge and Glór na nGael. It is held over a weekend, usually 2 – 3 weeks prior to Oireachtas na Gaeilge. The event brings together committee members from Cumainn around the country, as well as any Oifigigh na Gaeilge that exist. The weekend comprises a number of training and bonding events that aim to aid the work of Irish Language communities around the country for their year ahead. USI and our partners co-ordinate the outworking of the event from early September, and endeavour to maximise attendance. This year saw the largest ever attendance at the event with representation from 23 institutions. It was the first time that the event was held from Friday – Sunday, the success of which was reflected in the increased attendance. This year there was also a re-evaluation of the modules provided with more emphasis placed on working closer with SU’s. This event is one that is always developing. We have made significant improvements this year, with scope to improve further in 2013.

Oireachtas na Gaeilge Oireachts na Gaeilge is the biggest event within USI’s Irish Language every year. An t-Oireachtas is a festival of Irish language and culture that holds dancing and singing competitions, as well debates, public meetings on a variety of issues and product launches pertaining to the Irish Language. Like Traenáil na gCumann, this year was the biggest attendance by students there has ever been. Ahead of the event there were significant problems regarding accommodation at the event. In spite of this more than 600 students made the trip to Letterkenny, and were based as far away as Donegal town and Derry. Over the course of the weekend USI along with Conradh na Gaeilge organise a number of events. Historically the main event that takes place for students is the Damhsa Gléasta on Friday night. This event aims to build on the connections established at Traenáil na gCumann. This is part of a longer-term aim that Cumainn Gaelaigh will move outside of their own campuses, organising events in communities with other MO’s. The other large student event that has been running for the last two years is the Student debate co-organised between ourselves in USI, Conradh na Gaeilge, and Gael-Linn. The attendance at this event has been spectacular over the last two years and has shown that students are now an integral part of the festival. Gael-Linn have already expressed their interest in running the event again next year.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

National Condom Week USI, in conjunction with Dublin Aids Alliance supported National Condom Week where thousands of condoms were distributed to colleges who were interested in getting involved. Nine Students’ Unions across the country got involved and ran various activities on campus to celebrate National Condom Week.

Show your support for National Condom Week Win 1 of 3 Durex goodie bags by ‘liking’ and sharing this photo

Road Safety Campus Tour

y t e f a S d a Ro r u o T s u p m 2012 Ca THE CAMPUS TOUR INCLUDES: AUTOGLASS WILL BE ON CAMPUS CARRYING OUT WINDSCREEN REPAIRS ADVANCE PITSTOP WILL BE CARRYING OUT SAFETY CHECKS ON CARS TRIBUTE TO ROADS TRAFFIC VICTIMS OF 2011 FREE HIGH VIS MATERIALS CAR CRASH RE-ENACTMENT & MUCH MORE.

ALso feAturing rsA roLLover simuLAtor!

In October 2012, USI co-ordinated the first Road Safety Campus Tour in conjunction with the Road Safety Authority (RSA). The Campus Tour was supported by Autoglass & Advance Pitstop and was held in UCD, IT Sligo & IT Carlow (Oct 23rd 24th, 25th). The aim of the tour was to highlight road safety issues for college students. High vis materials from RSA were available to students, the RSA Rollover was present on each campus, car crash re-enactments, a tribute to all the road traffic victims in 2011 & involvement from Autoglass & Advance pitstop on each campus.

USI Attend Launch of Don’t Be That Guy Campaign in Trinity College Dublin On October 10th, USI attended the launch of the Don’t Be That Guy campaign in Trinity College Dublin. USI went on to invite the President of the TCD Gender Equality Society and the TCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer to speak about this campaign at the USI Equality and Citizenship Working Group. The campaign was a great success and spread to many campuses across Ireland. The campaign went on to win ‘Best Equality Campaign’ at USI’s Student Achievement Awards Ireland The Don’t Be That Guy campaign, started in North America, aims to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and sexual assault. Past campaigns have targeted victims, asking them to change their behaviours in order to avoid being victims of sexual assault. This campaign targets potential offenders, those who are responsible for attacks. It looks to dispel the culture of victim blaming and to shift the focus to those committing the attacks. 

European Student Convention 24 The 24th Biannual European Student Convention was hosted in Limassol, Cyprus by POFEN (Pagkypria Omospondia Foititikon Enoseon). USI attended as an ESU member. Under the theme ‘The crisis is getting deeper. Is Society under threat’ the effects of Austerity were examined and discussed in terms of both Higher Education and society as a whole. Presentations, panel discussions and group break out sessions lead to rich and informative debate. Youth unemployment, smart employability and Higher Education cut backs were the main topics discussed.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Green Training USI co-organised Green Training with Young Friends of the Earth on the 6th of October in Trinity College Dublin. Green Training featured a range of workshops to empower students to campaign on environmental issues.

Mature Students’ Convention USI organised a Mature Students’ Convention on the 13th of October in NUI Maynooth with mature students attending from across the country for a day of workshops and networking.

Green

Training

Transgender Rights Rally USI attended the first transgender rights rally outside Dáil Eireann on the 20th of October. The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship spoke at rally. USI is one of the key organisations calling on the Government to introduce respectful and inclusive gender recognition legislation in Ireland.

Sexual Health Education Roadshow In 2012/2013, USI expanded its sexual health campaign. USI co-ordinated the Sexual Health Education Roadshow which launched in September and visited four colleges across four months. It visited NUI Maynooth, WIT, IT Sligo and IT Blanchardstown. The roadshow was supported by Crisis Pregnancy Programme, IFPA, Durex, Dublin Aids Alliance, Gay Health Network, Siobhan o Higgins (sexual health educator) and Shane Quilty (world’s only sexual health magician). Attractions for students include interactive and educational stands run by sexual health organisations, Think Contraception branded Eco Cabs & digital game, promotion of STI tests and contraception choices, sexual health workshops, a sexual health magician, a chance of winning a Durex hamper and much more. The Roadshow intended to educate college students about their sexual health in the hope that students who are sexually active will have enjoyable, consensual, safer sex. The priority with this Roadshow is to promote healthy attitudes to sex.

Mental Health Campus Tour with See Change USI together with See Change, Suicide or Survive, Save Our Sons and Daughters and Yellow Asylum Films coordinated the second year of The Mental Health Campus Tour and was held in DKIT & UCC. Mental Health services and organisations came of campus to promote their services and engage with students through an awareness and information fair. There was an intimate screening of the acclaimed RTE/ Yellow Asylum Films documentary ‘I See A Darkness’ which features the stories of three people who have been directly affected by suicide. Those very three people were present to take the students and staff through their powerful personal stories and answer any questions that arise. There were workshops/seminars planned for after the ‘I see a darkness’ talk in each college. See Change provided #MakeARipple wristbands to students in DKIT & UCC. Overall it proved to be an excellent medium in encouraging people to talk about mental health.

Trinity College, 11am Saturday, October 6th To register, email youngfoe@foe.ie


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

SUSI Forum USI and the Department of Education agreed to set up a feedback mechanism for SUSI in the form of a forum of SU Officers and SUSI staff. The forum included Education and Welfare Officers from across the country and SUSI staff from various departments. This was a good communication channel with SUSI, allowing for positive and constructive feedback and proposed solutions to issues to be discussed.

TCD votes to remain affiliated with USI The students of Trinity College Dublin have voted in favour of their Students’ Union remaining affiliated with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Students were asked to vote ‘Yes’ if they were in favour of disaffiliation or ‘No’ if in favour of remaining affiliated. ‘No’ received 1,496 (61.5%) votes, while ‘Yes’ received 829 (34.1%) votes, a margin of 667 votes. In total, 2,431 votes were cast with 106 (4.4%) ballots spoiled.

Still on the same team. Still working together.

USI President John Logue said: “USI is proud to have received such an overwhelming endorsement from the students of Trinity College. USI’s inaugural meeting was held in Trinity College on June 19th, 1959 and its Students’ Union has played a significant role in the growth and development of the organisation in its 53-year history. This result strengthens USI ahead of our upcoming national campaign. We now face into this campaign with a renewed mandate to act as the voice of Irish students and to fight for their education and welfare. We will continue to resist any increases in fees, cuts to the maintenance grant and any measures that affect access to education.”

‘Fed Up? Stand Up’ begins

Together We’re Stronger www.usi.ie

During the pre-Budget campaign USI held 17 Public Meetings and 14 protests across the Country with our member organisations. The overarching message of the campaign was that students and young people have been treated poorly by the Government during this recession and that we need to review our priorities as regards access to third level education. The first public meeting was in Dundalk, hosted by DkIT Students’ Union in October and ran right throughout the country from Letterkenny – Sligo – Castlebar – Galway - Athlone – Limerick – Tralee - Cork – Waterford – Tipperary – Carlow – Maynooth – Dublin.

November Children’s Rights Referendum USI advocated for a Yes vote in the children’s rights referendum (thirty-first amendment to the Irish constitution) which took place on the 10th of November and was passed by a 58% majority.

International Students’ Forum USI organised an International Students’ Forum with the Irish Council for International Students in the Mansion House on the 18th of November. Discussion points for the event included integration into culture in Ireland, academic life and campus life.

Transgender Remembrance Ceremony USI attended a remembrance ceremony and lantern launch on Bachelor’s Walk on the evening of the 20th of November to commemorate all of the Trans persons who have died.

Vigil for Savita Halappanavar USI was present at a vigil following the death of Savita Halappanavar outside Dáil Eireann on the 21st of November.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

What makes you smile? Mental Health Awareness Week USI partnered with HeadsUp.ie, ReachOut. com, and PleaseTalk.org to launch Mental Health Awareness Week in 2012. This national campaign was launched in the National College of Ireland (NCI), St Angela’s College Sligo and Institute of Technology Tralee on Monday November 12th. The theme for the campaign this year was positive mental health and the promotion of support services available to students and young people. The tagline of the campaign is ‘What Makes You Smile?’  The campaign’s aim was to tackle the increasingly negative outlook that many students have, due to financial stress and other factors, by asking them to identify and value the smaller things in life that make us smile and impact positively on our mental health and wellbeing.  Thousands of packs were distributed to colleges across the country, incorporating the ‘What Makes You Smile?’ theme. The pack included a postcard, a HeadsUp pen, and a ReachOut. com/PleaseTalk.org bookmark. Students were asked to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook to tell us ‘what makes you smile’ to be in with a chance of winning a ‘Feel Good’ hamper using #WhatMakesYouSmile.

Disability Cuts Protest USI was present at a protest outside Dáil Eireann against cuts to supports for persons with disabities on November 21st.

USI Pink Training 20th Anniversary USI celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pink Training in University College Cork from the 16th-18th of November. The event was a huge success and this year with 370 delegates attending, including many from member colleges who had not been to Pink Training previously. Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability, Older People and Mental Health opened the event. Jerry Buttimer TD delivered a keynote speech on the Saturday morning. Other keynote speakers included Heather Wilk, a co-founder of the highly successful U.S. organisation Straight But Not Narrow and Leslie Sherlock, Organiser with Trans Education and Advocacy. This year, Pink Training had an increased focus on Transgender, Queer and LGBT Ally issues. There was a 20th anniversary dinner and USI was delighted to have the original organiser from 1992, Shauneen Armstrong in attendance.

Action on X USI was represented at a protest outside Dáil Eireann on the 28th of November calling for the Government to legislate for the X case.

Donegal County Council Donegal County Council passes a motion to support USIs opposition to any further cuts to the grant for students.

Appointment to the Qualifications and Quality Ireland (QQI) The President was appointed as a Board Member under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 to Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

PINK

Training

2012 16th-18th November University College Cork


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Samples of Press Clippings for the ‘Fed Up? Stand Up’ pre-Budget Campaign

Page 35 of today’s Irish Independent Go to www.usi.ie/standup for campaign information

Opinion pieces written by John Logue for the Irish Independent and The Irish Times


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Don’t Destroy Their Futures The Star newspaper begins its campaign to help our cause. Case studies of students who are suffering because of grant delays and who fear €3,000 fees and more grant cuts.

Irish Daily Mirror begins ‘Save Our Students’ Campaign

Page 8 - with column by USI President John Logue

Fed Up? Stand Up. www.usi.ie/standup

The Irish Daily Mirror continues its ‘Save Our Students’ campaign Page 14

USI campaign site: www.usi.ie/standup

The Irish Daily Star and the Irish Daily Mirror both launched campaigns to support our cause. Featured articles included interviews with students, reports on our protests and the Mirror ran a column by USI President John Logue. Tabloid Daily Circulation (ABC, February 2012) Irish Daily Star - 76,560 Irish Daily Mirror - 59,470

Newspapers

Support Students Coverage of the sit-in at Enda Kenny’s constituency office and a feature on Kyne’s Corner, the campaign website of GMIT Students’ Union.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

The ‘Fed Up? Stand Up.’ campaign involved regional marches and public meetings.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Part Time Officer Training Part Time Officer Training was held in Trinity College Dublin on November 8th. Over 30 student officers attended the day long event which included modules on Time Management, Running Events, Utilising Social Media, Equality Campaigning, Dealing with College Authorities and Running Campaigns.

Postgraduate Seminar Following the launch of a Bank of Ireland Postgraduate Loan scheme a number of postgraduate seminars were hosted by USI. The initial aim of these seminars was to address the postgraduate financing crisis but other networks, initiatives and ideas came from these meetings. In response to the BOI loan scheme the group broke down the core elements of the scheme and discussed alternatives. Following initial discussions a researcher was contracted to report on loan schemes available to postgraduate students in other countries. Though no single scheme appeared to fit the Irish context many examples were drawn from to piece together a state backed Irish loan scheme. The financing and economics of the scheme needed to be looked at by experts so an expert panel was proposed to look at the possibilities.

December SUSI Delays Through the first term a great many students experienced significant delays with their SUSI Application. Many issues arose leading to delays in processing, approval and payment. As each problem became apparent USI communicated them to SUSI, suggested solutions and often ran information campaigns on issues such as the returning of final course acceptance forms. Many of the problems could be reduced to three core issues: SUSI did not have enough staff, the staff had not received the necessary training and the communication from SUSI to students, families and the media was very poor. As the delays continued many students were facing financial crisis with a significant number unable to afford rent and food. As well as working with individual students and SU officers, USI lobbied the Department of Education to take action and put in place more resources and staff for SUSI. Under pressure from USI and TD’s the Taoiseach also promised all applications would be dealt with by December 31st. As the delays continued many Students’ Unions made food boxes and vouchers available to hundreds of students at risk of starvation four months after they submitted their application.

Women’s Right to Health Conference USI attended the Women’s Human Rights Alliance (WHRA) conference on Realising Women’s Right to Health in Ireland on December 17th. The conference highlighted UN and global standards on the right to health that are particularly applicable to realising women’s right to health in Ireland. Mr. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health gave a key note address at the conference. 


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Hilary Clinton’s Human Rights Address Members of USI Officer Board attended a human rights address by U.S. Secretary of State, Hialry Clinton in Dublin City University on the 6th of December

Campus Engagement USI was at the Campus Engage ‘Actioning Engagement’ conference in Dublin City University on the 14th of December. This event was attended by staff members in colleges across the country who are working on student engagement and volunteering. Campus Engage is ___

Turn Off the Red Light USI met with the Turn Off the Red Light campaign on the 17th of December to discuss working together. USI passed a motion at Congress in March 2013 to support this campaign to criminalise purchasers of sex in Ireland.

Exam Prep Campaign USI teamed up with SpunOut, PleaseTalk.org & Headsup.ie to run the Exam Prep campaign. In December, USI launched www.usi.ie/exams. This is a resource for students studying for and sitting exams. The web page includes tips, advice and downloadable study planner. Royseven’s singer, Paul Walsh, UCD student, got involved by writing a piece on his experience of college exams. In May 2013, the campaign was rolled out yet again with Exam Prep Guides and Bookmarks available on campuses across the country. Exam prep videos covering; Exam Stress, Study Buddies and Group Sessions were created for students.

Sligo County Council Sligo County Council motion passes to support USIs opposition to any further cuts to the grant for students.

January

SAY SOMETHING USI Launch ‘Say Something’ Survey on Students’ Experiences of Violence USI launched the online ‘Say Something’ survey on the 10th of January. The survey remained open until the 15th of February. This was the first ever survey of its kind and scale to be conducted in Ireland for third level students on their experiences of violence, including sexual violence. The survey was funded by Cosc – the Centre for the Prevention of Sexual, Domestic and Gender Based Violence and the research was conducted by an independent researcher. Over 2,700 students filled out the survey nationally.

Intergenerational Campaigning Workshop USI and Older and Bolder ran an Intergenerational Campaigning workshop in the Aisling Hotel in Dublin on the 23rd of January. The workshop was attended from students and sabbatical officers from many member organisations as well as members of Older and Bolder from around Ireland. The purpose of the event was to compare campaigning methods between both organisations. A presentation was made by the USI Deputy President and Campaigns Officer on the USI pre-budget campaign and a presentation was made also by Older and Bolder on their pre-budget campaign. The groups were then split into small discussion sessions to discuss similarities, differences, approaches to campaigning, results, stereotypes around age and potential collaborations.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

USI ‘Women in Society’ Seminar in UCC The first USI Women in Society seminar took place in UCC on the 28th of January. It was hosted by UCC Feminist Society. The purpose of these seminars was to generate conversation on campuses around women’s issues and the issue of female participation in public life. The speakers were Deirdre O’ Shaughnesy, Editor of the Cork Independent; Fiona Buckley, lecturer in UCC Department of Government; Jennifer DeWan, Co-founder of Cork Feminista and Deirdre Waldron, President of Network Cork and founder of Fuzion PR.

DkIT Plebiscite December 13th DKIT hold a plebiscite to ask students if they want to buy JJB sports as a capital investment for the college. The referendum passes and students agree to inherit the cost of 120 euro per person to buy the facility.

Trinity Admissions Feasibility Study In January USI was invited to speak at the Trinity College Dublin feasibility study launch on college admissions. The study is examining the inclusion of other criteria with the points system in a small scale test in 2014. As well as including a student Leaving Cert points, their achievements in comparison with their schools peers and an anonymous letter of motivation will also be considered. The merits of including these other criteria may be a solution to avoiding many students dropping out having chosen a programme unsuitable for them.

HEA Conference Under the Irish European Presidency the Higher Education Authority hosted a conference in Dublin Castle. The theme was ‘Rankings and the Visibility of Quality Outcomes in the European Higher Education Area’. The conference was opened by Minister of Education and Skills and by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. The new phase of U-Multirank, an EU Commission led college ranking system was launched at the conference which also looked at measuring quality from different user perspectives of higher education institutions as part of the broader modernisation agenda. The impact of rankings on students, academic and administrative/managerial staff was discussed.

february Maynooth Referendum Due to the procedures laid out in their constitution Maynooth Students’ Union had to run a referendum on their membership to USI. It was three years since they became members of the national union and so the date was set on 27th of February for students to decide whether or not they wished to remain affiliated. Maynooth Students’ Union, which also represents St Patrick’s Pontifical College and Froebel College of Education, remain one of USI’s member organisations.  There was a strong referendum team behind a strong campaign and the result ended up that close to 87% of students in Maynooth chose to remain affiliated with USI. With a total valid poll of 1892 votes, 1639 students voted ‘Yes’ to affiliation, with just 253 opposing.  USI Addresses Constitutional Convention on ‘Role of Women’ and ‘Women in Politics’ Following USI’s submission to the Constitutional Convention on the topic of ‘Women in Politics/Role of Women,’ USI was invited to address the Convention in person on the contents of our submission on Sunday, February 17th.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

SHAG Fortnight USI launched its Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign in February in collaboration with Think Contraception, Durex and Merck Sharp and Dohme. The campaign, which will be rolled out in campuses across Ireland over a fortnight, was launched in UCD. The SHAG campaign was expanded over two weeks and the roadshow visited five campuses within the fortnight (UCD, GMIT, AIT, DIT, LIT). The roadshow was supported by Think Contraception, Dublin Aids Alliance, Irish Family Planning Association, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Aids West, Red Ribbon Project and Crisis Pregancy Programmes. 45,000 ‘SHAG packs’ were distributed to students across Ireland. The packs contained a condom, a sachet of lubricant and information regarding safe sex and STIs. The focus of the campaign is to promote positive attitudes towards sex and raise awareness to all aspects of sexual health. Sexuality is an integral part of being human, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight or however you define yourself.

Shag.usi.ie Following a mandate from USI Congress 2012, USI launched shag.usi.ie - the first website dedicated to informing third level students about safer sex. The website was constructed by USI officers and staff and was launched during USI SHAG Week, February 2013. The website highlights the location and contact details of STI Clinics across the country, advice and information on many issues such as abstinence, emergency contraception, how to use a condom and much more.

USI Submission to Constitutional Convention on Marriage Equality USI compiled a detailed submission to the Constitutional Convention on marriage equality with personal testimonies from students and an endorsement from the Dean of Students in Trinity College Dublin. The Convention received over 1,000 submissions from various individuals and organisations.

USI Women in Society Seminar in UCD USI organised the second ‘Women in Society’ seminar in University College Dublin on the 7th of February. The UCD seminar speakers were: Margaret Ward, founder of Women on Air and award winning journalist; Michelle O’ Donnell Keating, co-founder of Women for Election; Kathleen Lynch, Professor of Equality Studies in UCD; Rachel Breslin, UCD Students’ Union President and Grainne Healy, Chair of Marriage Equality.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

The launch of ents.usi.ie

Statement on result of UCD referendum “It is with great regret that I note the results of a referendum of UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) which will result in its disaffiliation from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Throughout the referendum campaign, students who favoured disaffiliation felt that UCDSU should adopt a more local focus for the foreseeable future, in light of its financial difficulties. We recognise the unique circumstances in UCD. It’s clear that the decision taken by its students is not reflected in referendum results elsewhere and while we are disappointed to lose their voice from the national union, we respect their decision. It is regrettable that the rules for this referendum prevented all USI officers, except for UCD alumni, from discussing the issues with students on campus. As a result of this, I feel that students were not granted the opportunity to hear the full case for continuing membership of their national union. USI now awaits notification from UCDSU of its intention to disaffiliate, which according to the constitution voted on and supported by UCDSU, will take place one calendar year after the notification is made to USI National Council. In the period between now and then, USI has an opportunity to prove the value and worth of the organisation and win back the wholehearted support of UCD’s students. USI is proud of its work protecting students from the worst effects of the financial crisis, its campaigns for gender and marriage equality and its efforts to promote mental and sexual health. We hope that UCD students will join these campaigns again in the future, as their input has been profoundly influential over the years. Last Autumn, the students of Trinity College chose to remain affiliated to USI and tomorrow we hope to hear that students in NUI Maynooth will do the same. We will also hear whether students in Dublin City University have chosen to rejoin USI, after a decade of disaffiliation. As students go through difficult times, never has the value of unity and the cost of division been so evident. With this as a guiding principle, we hope to hear the voice of UCD students in the national union again before long. John Logue, USI President”


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

March

USI Congress 2013 USI Congress returned to the Carlton Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe for another outing. Policy across the whole range of campaigns was made, and the results of USI’s first ever effective accounts audit were discussed with members. Booking and cash handling were all made this year by Marathon Travel, our partner for a number of years. This results in a reduction in workload for staff and officers at a very busy time, and was particularly welcome this year due to the proximity of the European Student Convention, just weeks before Congress. Three themed evenings of entertainment provided the backdrop to the social dimension of the event. Thanks to negotiations, the cost of Congress per delegate was held at the same rate as Congress 2012 – despite inflation in hotel room prices in the year of 13%. Efforts were ongoing at the time of writing to seek sponsorship to reduce the cost of Congress per delegate for 2014. The new Officerboard was elected at the Annual USI Congress in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The NUS-USI President was elected in April at the NUS-USI Conference in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. President – Joe O’Connor, VP for Campaigns – Paddy Guiney, VP for Welfare – Denise McCarthy, VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance – Cat O’Driscoll, VP for Equality and Citizenship – Laura Harmon, VP for Irish Language – Feidhlim Seoige, VP for Border, Midlands and Western Region – Kevin Donoghue, VP for the Southern Region – Ciara Guinan, NUS-USI President – Rebecca Hall.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

#ThinkBeforeYouType Cyberbullying AwAreness

go to the site for more info

www.usi.ie/cyberbullying Think Before You Type- Cyberbullying Awareness Campaign Social media is designed to bring people together, but when it’s used to exclude and target people the effects can be devastating. USI launched a cyberbullying awareness campaign, Think Before You Type, in partnership with NUSUSI, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Headstrong, SpunOut.ie, Headsup.ie and Reachout.com. This coalition of youth organisations have agreed that cyberbullying must be addressed at a national level and has become an issue of grave concern for many young people. USI developed a guide to include tips on netiquette, advice on how to deal with cyberbullying & information on available support services. USI also developed and adopted a cyberbullying policy for the organisation entitled ‘Combating Cyberbullying in Third Level’. This policy advocates the need for policy on cyberbullying at a local level by Students’ Unions and Higher Education Institutions. USI will continue to work on this issue.

National Student Survey The first Irish National Student Survey pilot was launched on March 4th. This project was cosponsored by the HEA, IUA, IOTI and USI. The survey asked students on their engagement and satisfaction with their college and education. A plenary group was established to co-ordinate the project with three working groups: Survey Design, Technical and Communications & Reporting. USI chaired the Communications & Reporting working group. The survey was open for 4 weeks and achieved a national response rate of over 10%. The data is currently at analysis stage and a report on the pilot will be published in the autumn.

SAF Harmonisation Study and Best Practice Report

HAVE YOUR SAY

YOUR FEEDBACK STARTING OFF

FINISHING COLLEGE

Photography: Ben McCarthy

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) acts as a lifeline for students most at risk of dropping out due to financial concerns. Following a mandate from USI Congress 2012, USI developed a comprehensive Harmonisation Study on the Student Assistance Fund. The study reviewed many aspects of the SAF from the application procedures across Higher Education Institutions to promotion, awareness and processing. USI then authored a Best Practise Framework Report which was approved at USI Congress 2013. From this USI developed conclusions from the Harmonisation Study and recommendation for USI, Member Organisations and the Higher Education Authority.

LAUNCHING 4 MARCH 2013

REALCHANGE The Irish National Student Survey needs your feedback! We want to hear from undergraduate (first year and final year) and postgraduate students. Tell us about your experience in college. We want to hear about your levels of engagement and satisfaction. We want to use your feedback to help colleges to identify areas of good practice and areas for improvement. Have your say and help to build a better education system for students.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

25th European Student Convention

European

The 25th

Student Convention Coinbhinsiún Mic Léinn na hEorpa

USI hosted the 25th European Student Convention in Dublin in partnership with ESU, the HEA, Department of Education and Skills and the QQI. Over 80 student representatives from across Europe met in the Department of Education Clock Tower to discuss the theme ‘Equality through Diversity’. Opened by Sean Ó Foghlú, Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills the convention covered many different topics including Access to Education, Minorities and Higher Education, Supporting Students with disabilities and Quality Assurance. The exchange of national perspectives and best practise in overcoming cultural and social barriers to education was lead to very interesting debates and discussions. ESU policy papers on Quality Assurance, Commodification of Education and Internationalisation and mobility were also discussed.

Seachtain na Gaeilge

Dublin | March 2013

The promotion of successful Seachtainí na Gaeilge is a key element of USI’s Irish Language campaign. USI offered help and assistance to cumainn around the country in the organisation and promotion of any Seachtain na Gaeilge that was undertaken. We also encouraged smaller and developing cumainn to undertake their own day or week. Like Seachtain na bhFreisir these days and weeks are a chance to showcase the strength of Irish Language communities on campus. As well as this it gives a chance to bolster membership at the end of one year going into the next year.

Korrika Festival USI, as partners of bi-annual Irish language festival, Rith, attended the Korrika festival in the Basque country prior to Congress in March. The visit gave USI a chance to learn how the organisers of the Korrika ensured such an input from students and young people in the Basque Country. Nearly 1,000,000 people take part in the festival when it takes place every other year. USI were honoured to be part of the non-stop relay race in March and look forward the sharing that experience during with students in the lead up to the Rith festival due to take place in March next year.

Action on X Rally USI were represented at and spoke at the Action on X rally on the 4th of March outside City Hall in Dublin. USI was one of many key organisations involved in the Rally for X including SIPTU, Unite the Union, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Doctors for Choice and Terminations for Medical Reasons. The Rally was covered on the RTE news that night.

Student Assistance Fund Study Following a mandate from Congress 2012 a study on the SAF protocols in each college was conducted. This looked at the various application forms and processing procedures in place across the country along with the supports and information available to students. The report was published ahead of USI Annual Congress where the recommendations were adopted.

National Forum for Teaching & Learning The National Forum for Teaching & Learning was established in March. USI was invited to nominate a representative. The forum is chaired by Professor Sarah Moore and working with the enhancement theme ‘TEACHING FOR TRANSITIONS’. The forum will also be coordinating the first national teaching awards.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

April

Student Achievement Awards The Union of Students in Ireland hosted the first standalone student achievement awards on Thursday April 18th in the Shelbourne Hotel Dublin. This event was the first of a kind to recognise the achievements of third-level students in Ireland across categories relating to students’ union campaigns, political activism, online and print media, volunteering and community engagement.The event which recognised the creativity and skill of individual students was hosted by comedian Colin Murphy. Those plying their trade in college newspapers and student media outlets, the Awards had the chance to be recognised by leaders in the industry. Editor of TheJournal.ie, Susan Daly, judged Website of the Year while the editor of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, Frank Fitzgibbon, judged Journalist of the Year. The editor of the Irish Independent, Stephen Rae, judged Publication of the Year and Frank Miller of The Irish Times judged Photographer of the Year. Community volunteering and campaigns promoting student wellbeing were also recognised at the Awards, with former Ireland and Munster rugby player and mental health campaigner, Alan Quinlan, judging Charity Event of the Year. With twenty categories in total, extra-curricular activities of all kinds were recognised at the event and representatives from colleges across the island, including Northern Ireland, were in attendance making the night a huge success.

Cycle Against Suicide Cycle Against Suicide is an initiative started by Irish entrepreneur, Jim Breen. The main objective of the Cycle was to raise awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self harm at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide. Cycle Against Suicide also aims to create better alignment between the various organisations working to prevent suicide and provide bereavement support so that more lives can be saved. USI fully supported Cycle against Suicide and on May 22nd assisted with the launch of the Cycle. The Cycle toured the country visiting local communities, schools and colleges.

ESU BM 64 The European Students’ Union holds biannual Board meetings to set policies and mandates. The 64th meeting was hosted in Budapest by the Hungarian National Students Union, HOOK. As well as electing the new Executive Committee and Presidency policy papers were adopted on Quality Assurance, Student Mobility and Internationalisation and HE funding. This was USIs first meeting with full voting rights and submitted a motion on delegate welfare which was passed with a great majority.

USI Represented at Abortion Rights Rally USI represented and spoke at the Abortion Rights rally on April 29th at City Hall Plaza, which coincided with an EU Gender Equality meeting in Dublin Castle.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

USI Attends Constitutional Convention on Marriage Equality USI attended the Constitutional Convention on Marriage Equality in the Grand Hotel in Malahide on the 13th and 14th of April. The Convention voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Government taking action to provide for marriage equality in Ireland.

USI meet Ugandan LGBT Activist Kasha Nabagesera On the 24th OF April USI attended a roundtable discussion in Amnesty Ireland headquarters with Ugandan LGBT activist, Kasha Nabagesera. Kasha was presented afterwards with the GALA Award for International LGBT Activist.

Fóram na Gaeilge Fóram na Gaeilge is a forum for Irish Language students / Cumainn Gaelaigh members to have an input into USI’s Irish Language campaign. The forum has its roots in the Irish Language Standing Conference. It offers a chance for students who are most involved with USI’s Irish Language campaign to have an input into that campaign. The Forum takes place at Conradh na Gaeilge’s Árd Fheis, which this year was held in Newry. The forum is facilitated by Conradh na Gaeilge and and takes place on Saturday afternoon. It hears a report from USI’s LU Gaeilge, before debate on motions which, if successful are sent forward to the final National Council of that year. The forum continues to be very well received by the most prominent cumainn, however it is necessary to impress the benefits of the forum to smaller and develoiping cumainn in the future.

CIT re-affiliates with USI after 14 years

“The students of Cork Institute of Technology have voted to re-affiliate with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) after a 14 year absence from the national union. After two days of voting, 71.2% voted in favour of re-affiliation. The final tally was 630 in favour and 255 against. The result of the referendum will see over 7,500 members CIT Students’ Union engage with the national union in campaigns relating to third level funding, marriage equality and mental health awareness, among others. This positive result for USI follows referendum victories in Trinity College, NUI Maynooth, Queen’s University Belfast and DCU. John Logue, President of USI, said: “We are delighted to welcome the students of CIT back to the national union. The 7,500 voices of CITSU will now be added to the 250,000 that USI already represents, making our union an even more potent agent for progressive change in the higher education sector and society in general. The members of CITSU voted for unity because they realise that students must speak clearly, in one voice, if our opinions and views are to be heard and taken seriously. USI, and all our member colleges, are looking forward to working with the students of CIT in the hope of ensuring equity of access to higher education and the promotion of rights for the vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.”


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

May Accommodation Advice Moving out of student accommodation for the summer can be a stressful time for students and so USI developed usi.ie/accommodationadvice/. This section of the USI website aimed to help students and to give advice and information on moving out, getting a deposit back, property tax, singing contracts and useful contacts.

Voter Registration USI conducted a voter registration drive in May in conjunction with many member organisations across the country.

USI Attend AHEAD Building the Future Careers Day USI attended the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability’s ‘Building the Future’ Careers Day in Citi on the 17th of May. The careers event was aimed at students and graduates with disabilities. The event gave students an opportunity to develop their job hunting and interview skills. In attendance on the day were many companies like Google, Accenture, Bank of Ireland, Sigmar Recruitment, ESB and Deloitte.

USI Represented at Rally for Accessible Abortion

marriage equality seanad reform local elections 2014 lowering the voting age ! y d a e R Be ote! to V Register www.usi.ie/yourvote

d Downloa t a form RFtAer.ie

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All information on voting can be found here: www.usi.ie/yourvote LOCAL DETAILS:

USI attended and spoke at an accessible abortion rights rally outside Central Bank on the 18th of May.

USI Address Meeting of EU MEPs in Dublin On the 15th of May, USI addressed EU MEPs from the European United Left-Nordic Green Left parliamentary group in the Gresham Hotel on Abortion Rights in Ireland.

Issued by: Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Ceann Áras na Mac Léinn, Portview House, York Road, Dublin 4

USI Officers Attend Women for Election event with Jessica Grounds On the 21st of May, USI were invited to attend the Women for Election and Network Dublin event: ‘Social Enterprise: A model for engaging women in politics’ with special guest speaker Jessica Grounds, Executive Director of Running Start, Founder of Solid Grounds Strategy and Training Lead for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for the Iowa Caucuses

SUSI Review Following the many problems with the first year of the centralised grant awarding authority SUSI, a review was commissioned by the City of Dublin VEC. Conducted by Accenture the review examined the structures, procedures and practises of SUSI and consulted with external stakeholders including USI. Unsurprisingly the lack of adequately trained staff, constraints in resources and poorly planned management structure were all cited in the report. As year two begins there are a number of improvements which should greatly reduce delays next year. These include earlier deadlines, reduction in the amount of documentation to be supplied and a coordinated communications strategy with a centralised website.

SU Officer Guide Officerboard put together a handbook for the incoming sabbatical officers across the country for the start of the academic year 2013/2014. The book contains advice and tip on how to run your students’ union, entertaining your students, managing students’ union budgets and much more. Contributions were also given by former officers from across the country.


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

June PleaseTalk Forum 2013 USI was heavily involved in the organisation and delivery of the fourth PleaseTalk Forum. The theme of the Forum was PleaseTalk: You, Me & Our Mental Health and took place on June 14th in DIT Kevin Street. Students, students’ union officers & student support staff from across the country were in attendance. The highlight of the day was the panel discussion entitled: ’Opportunities and Challenges in Promoting Mental Health in Third Level‘. Particpants also took part in various breakout sessions to better the PleaseTalk initiative.

TALK FORUM PLEAS,EMe and our Mental He

You eTalk: s a e l P

alth

Waterford LGBT Pride USI attended Waterford LGBT Pride on the 1st of June and marched in the parade behind the USI banner with member students.

‘Say Something’ Survey Report Launch USI launched their ‘Say Something’ survey report on the 25th of June in Trinity College Dublin.

USI speak at Irish Council for International Students Seminar USI attended the ICOS seminar on the 6th of June on the ‘Quest for Quality’: Challenges for the International Higher Education Strategy.’ USI presented their response to the Green Paper on the International Education Mark by the QQI (Qualifications and Quality Ireland). Minister for Education and Skills, Ruáirí Quinn TD addressed the seminar also.

iscussion: Opportunities and Challe Panel D nge Promoting Mental Health in Third Lev s in el

DIT KEVIN STREET, DUBLIN 8

10.00-16.00 / LUNCH PROVIDED FOR FURTHER INFO CONTACT: info@pleasetalk.ie

Waterford Pride 2013 Attended by Laura Harmon VP for Equality and Citizenship


USI Annual Report 2012/2013

Notes


USI Annual Report 2012/2013


TOGETHER we’re STRONGER Ní Neart go Cur le Chéile

USI Annual Report 2012/2013  

A summary of the activities and achievements of USI in 2012/2013.